The Rise and Fall of Intellectual Christianity
Protestants today are in need of intellectual Christianity as much as any other time in history. The intellectual activity of our predecessors does not automatically flow to us. Their wisdom and their folly are there to be seen and learned from by those willing to process the information. Protestant heritage includes great minds; men and women of great accomplishments. But to use our intellectual faculties we have to make decisions that likely will lead us away from traditions which were not well founded. Not all emotion, experience or tradition is contrary to intellectual process. But it is the intellectual process that evaluates emotion, experience and tradition deciding what to keep and what to discard. History is less a guide and more a milepost; a sign to the ever vigilant and a message to those who desire understanding.
As the Adventist church stands at a point where it must decide to cling to tradition or accept intellectual Christian challenges, so also must other Protestant churches. The term Evangelical at one time meant the idea of a church spreading the good news of God found in the four gospels. Today the term has come to mean the same as fundamentalist. Evangelical now means people who hold to the Bible as inerrant, infallible and holding to a strictly vicarious atonement, scientifically and socially out of step with reasonable people. While a Christian may not worry too much about what the world says of them (realizing that as Jesus said the world would reject His followers as it rejected Him). Still there may be some truth to those who now use the word Evangelical as derogatory.
The intellectual Christians that built up the church are becoming less and less visible. Today many of the large Protestant churches have abandoned the long held Protestant church practice of Sunday school. Many churches offer little opportunities for adults to interact with one another in the discussion of religious topics. Cell groups, the popular innovation of the last 20 years are sometimes so authoritarian that questioning a leader is not even allowed. Singing and Sermons have become the main form of religious instruction in today’s Protestant churches with the exception of Televangelists. Divergent views and questions have no place in today’s modern Christian churches. While Adventist churches have not abandoned the Sabbath school program it may be so poorly attended or conducted that it often becomes hard to find a Sabbath school that one feels comfortable presenting a differing view or posing serious questions.
The reason for this situation is very likely that today’s Protestants, as well as Adventists, have accepted the idea that his or her church has “The Truth”. The truth is being preached and there is nothing anyone needs to question or challenge. To challenge and question is what the atheists and the worldly folk do, it is not what we Christians do. It is the decline and fall of the Christian intellectual as the traditional once again gains ascendancy. It is possibly a new Dark Ages at a critical time for Christianity, with the concurrent lack of viability of Christianity in
The Christian church has a long history of argument. The arguments are recorded in the New Testament book of Acts and the writings of Paul. Several New Testament authors warn of the false teachers of the day. Truth and error have always existed inside the Christian Church; even the very godly can produce error and error repeated can become tradition. Christian Intellectuals may not be in agreement, they may even argue in Sabbath school and be critical of their own churches, but it is all a part of the process of thinking and applying knowledge. Christian Intellectuals believe that God will lead them into all truth, as the Bible says. However, since throughout history we have not arrived at all truth it is not likely that we will arrive at all truth today or tomorrow. We are all works in progress, and it is our faith in God manifested in Jesus Christ that maintains our unity even during the disagreements.
* This is an article from my website which I was reminded of this past week or two so I thought I would post it here. http://newprotestants.com/risefall.html